Review – “Catalysts Mixtape” – Bosveld

catalysts mixtapereviewed by Michael Thomas

Music is always a work in progress. There’s no guarantee that the music you hear on record will sound the same hearing it live, and artists tend to move on past a lot of their older material as newer material is produced. Some bands take several years to produce any kind of new music, while some hammer it out so quickly you wonder if they’re doing anything else.

Bosveld is an interesting path between the two extremes. The Ottawa “electro-acoustic folk” duo has released a type of recording not associated with the folk genre—a mixtape. This isn’t a finished work by any means, and the duo is making no statements to the contrary. Rather, Catalysts Mixtape is a glimpse into where Bosveld is right now (or more accurately, in February when the mixtape was released).

The recording consists of two sides filled to the brim with fragments—songs that have yet to be finished, outtakes, field recordings and whatever else. They are glimpses of what’s to come, but they also function as a fluid piece of music with more surprises than can be anticipated.

There’s, to be expected then, a wide range of instruments and track lengths, with bits of piano, the odd bit of orchestral sounds, being it strings or horns, and the odd bit of field recording, like the sirens heard in the first few minutes of Side A.

Side A is truly a smorgasbord, with many more changes than Side B. Side A also introduces Velodrones (Théan Slabbert) and Jeremy Mulder who each contribute an impressive number of instruments—and also provide vocals. The middle of the first side is the most powerful, a combination of guitars and horns.

Side B starts with the closest this mixtape gets to a full song, featuring picked acoustic guitar and dual vocals as well as horns. After this the snippets become more fleeting, with ominous sounds 6:30 and the hint of a marching-band style song that fades far too quickly.

Think of the Catalysts Mixtape as a stream of consciousness that will eventually lead to fruit. There’s a lot to take in, and repeated listens will open new avenues. What the full-length will sound like is anybody’s guess.

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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